Making Beautiful Stories

The Southern Festival of Books is a lot like the state fair—but better

by Alice Randall

October 9, 2015 Twenty-seven years ago, if you had asked me about the best time to visit Nashville, I would have said the second weekend in October—the weekend of the Southern Festival of Books. It’s a guaranteed good time. Rain or shine. At the festival, just showing up to hear the same author is considered invitation enough to engage your seatmate in conversation. Attending the Southern Festival of Books is the closest a visitor can come to being an instant insider in Nashville, where the New South begins. If you asked me that question today, I would say the same damn thing.

Published Friday, 9 October 2015

The Cost of a Thing

Decades after first reading Walden, Michael Sims still finds Henry David Thoreau exciting and challenging, maddening and inspiring

by Michael Sims

July 27, 2015 "When I first read Thoreau as a teenager, I quickly realized that I had found a magic carpet to my own rural Tennessee world. Henry helped me see and hear and smell my own woodland paths, and my own pond, with fresh senses." Michael Sims will appear at the Southern Festival of Books, held in Nashville October 9-11, 2015. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Published Monday, 27 July 2015

Creative Amnesia, or the Persistence of Magic

Novelist Steve Stern found his fictional world by searching for a lost Jewish tradition

by Steve Stern

June 1, 2015 I grew up wanting something I couldn’t name. I was raised in the Reform Jewish “tradition,” though the word here is gross hyperbole. The temple I attended as a kid in Memphis represented a variety of Judaism designed to be invisible, to blend indistinguishably with the Christ-haunted Southern landscape. As a consequence, I was virtually untouched by tradition and had not even an awareness of its absence. Nevertheless, one Sunday, playing hooky from confirmation class, I went exploring the old red brick pile of our temple along with a couple of partners in crime.

Published Monday, 1 June 2015

A Typesetter’s Love Letter to Books

Taking a love of the printed word to a new level

by Lindsay Lynch

May 8, 2015 When one of my old friends finally asked me what exactly I was doing in Nashville, I said I was working in a letterpress shop that specialized in nineteenth-century printing techniques. I left out the fact that I wasn’t being paid. Even so, at the moment, it sounded a whole lot better than toiling away at law school.

Published Friday, 8 May 2015

Car Trouble

There are times when the only recourse to automotive despair is Neil Diamond

by Morey Hill

April 24, 2015 It started off with a low, quiet groan. The kind of noise my roommate, Chet, makes when I mention things like “utility bills” or “soap.” Although something clearly wasn’t right, I just didn’t want to spend the money to get it fixed. It was a subtle noise, and my approach was to drown it out—I turned up the radio.

Published Friday, 24 April 2015

An Insignificant Balcony

Perhaps history is anything that is found in the past and repeated in the future

by Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay

April 20, 2015 The steps to our little balcony seem narrower each time, my hands tracing the delicate staircase. I forget the feeling of cool metal under my fingertips and dust that covers every millimeter of space until I have made it to the top, realizing what I’ve missed all along. There stand my grandparents in the doorframe with stolen time in their skin and longing in their veins.

Published Monday, 20 April 2015

Growing Home

An only child contemplates her unlikely path to motherhood

by Jen Wallwork Dominguez

April 20, 2015 My parents entered into marriage under the duress of an unplanned pregnancy, and spent the next nine brutal years locked up together, punishing each other for the mistake. By the time I graduated high school I had decided that I would never have children.

Published Monday, 20 April 2015

Leon’s Dog

A Chapter 16 writer considers the complications of kindness

by Maria Browning

March 25, 2015 One day in early January the weather reports were full of breathless predictions about a brutal cold snap on its way. When I drove by Leon’s house that afternoon I saw the dog out there, and knowing it would soon shiver in a sub-zero wind chill, I suddenly couldn’t take it anymore. It was unbearable to continue doing nothing.

Published Wednesday, 25 March 2015

In Praise of Failure

At a time of new beginnings, novelist Adam Ross contemplates his past

by Adam Ross

January 5, 2015 “I write these words as a man with a Ph.D. in failure, and I commenced my subject’s study on the day I decided to become a writer, a life-changing choice I made in 1986, after taking a creative-writing class my sophomore year at Vassar College. How many times did I fail? Let me count the ways.” As the rest of the country makes resolutions for self-improvement, celebrated Nashville novelist Adam Ross considers the value of failure.

Published Monday, 5 January 2015

Oysters and Pop Tarts

A Chapter 16 writer tells a tale of two Christmases

by Maria Browning

December 19, 2014 When I was a child, Christmas at Granny Browning’s house was about tradition, not pleasure. Christmas at home was an orgy of expensive presents and junk food. Both of them were wonderful and awful—and both were gifts to last a lifetime.

Published Friday, 19 December 2014

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